by Chicago

Disclaimers - characters owned by DC Comics and borrowed without permission, just for fun, not for profit.

Rated: G

Batgirl hesitated on the rooftop across from the Clocktower, her eyes narrowing. Barbara had called her, but she was not alone. The angle of her body suggested conversation, but clearly not with Nightwing. Nor with Robin - there wasn't enough authority in her body language. And none of the tension that sat subtly between her shoulders with Batman.

Dinah? No - although the hint of comfort in her casual motions was close to what she showed when Black Canary was around. Minus the traces of uncomfortable responsibility.

Who then?

Her father?

No, not enough defensive reassurance.

Cassandra scowled. Whoever it was was staying clear of any window, and she was not dropping in until she was sure she would not compromise Oracle. Batman had been more than clear on that point - no masks outside the inner circle, and certainly not around their information guru. Barbara could not be made vulnerable.

She could, of course, slip into Oracle's work room unobserved. The newest security features would slow her down a step, but that was a negligible delay. The problem was that she would be no nearer to figuring out the mystery if she had to divine the visitor from his or her voice. She would be stuck until the visitor left, and from Barbara's posture? That would not be soon.

So Batgirl settled on the ledge to wait.

It took several minutes, but finally, a distinctly female shape moved across the room. Not a familiar body, but...

She smiled. It was safe.

Thirty seconds later, she was stepping through a window into Barbara's living room.

"Batgirl," Barbara greeted with a clear air of expectation. She gestured toward her guest. "Have you met -"

"J'onn. Yes." Cassandra answered, settling herself on the low kitchen island.

There was a moment of stunned silence, then a low laugh came from the dark-eyed woman. "I'll bite," J'onn said. "How did you know?"

Cassandra shrugged. "Move too smooth for not-Bat."

Now Barbara chuckled. "Only Cassandra," she decreed.

"And Bruce," J'onn corrected. "Although he rarely tells me what tipped him off."

Cassandra pushed back her mask and plucked an apple from a fruit bowl on the counter. "Batman sneaky," she remarked, enjoying the laugh this earned her. She liked that she could make people laugh, although she still hadn't managed to learn exactly how she did it. But observations about Batman in the right company often was enough.

"Yes, he is," J'onn agreed.

Barbara snorted. "Understatement of the century."

Cassandra crunched into the apple, watching the interplay between these two. J'onn was good, she admitted, inhabiting his human form with a nice combination of mannerisms that she would normally regard as identifiers. Still, the emotional tics that Bruce's name evoked were clearly J'onn. She enjoyed that - seeing the way he reacted to her mentor. It was like a quelling of lonely. Barbara conveyed much the same thing when Nightwing was mentioned.

"Sneaky's not such a bad thing," J'onn was defending, amusement crinkling the corners of his human eyes.

"It's damned annoying is what it is," Barbara shot back, and a look of clearly feigned hurt crossed J'onn's features.

"I will endeavor to be less sneaky in your presence, Miss Gordon," he vowed solemnly, giving a little bow toward her.

"J'onn." She rolled her eyes. "There's sneaky, and then there's sneaky. Bruce is definitely in the latter camp."

J'onn raised an eyebrow. "That was - clarifying."

Barbara gave him an aggrieved look. "You know what I mean."

"Batman sneaky means need to know," Cassandra volunteered. "J'onn sneaky means being nice."

J'onn gave Cassandra a curious look, and she could see a tender surprise in his posture. "Not always," J'onn contradicted gently.

Cassandra shook her head. "Always." She tapped her temple. "I know. I see."

Barbara smiled. "Don't argue with her, J'onn. She's been observing you for months."

"Ah," J'onn said. "So it was you."

"See," Cassandra insisted. "J'onn sneaky nice. You already know, but be polite. Batman notice, suggests more training."

"That's our Batman," Barbara remarked, the telltale tension showing in her shoulders as she shifted in her chair.

J'onn's posture took on a thoughtful air. "Maybe I need to work harder on sneakiness."

"Oh, Bruce would love that. The 'girls' getting together to conspire to outsneak him."

Cassandra hopped down from the counter to dispose of her apple core. She started to lick the stickiness from her fingers, then remembered and washed her hands at the kitchen sink instead.

"So we're conspiring now?" J'onn's voice queried.

"Three Bats in a room equals conspiracy," Barbara informed him. "Without fail."

There was a pause, and when Cassandra moved back into the living room, she could see the pleased confusion in J'onn's body. "But there's only two - you and Cassandra."

Barbara wheeled across to J'onn and touched his arm. "Don't you realize? You are so Cave."


Cassandra pressed her hand over the emblem on her chest significantly. "Bat. Family." It was nice to say that word - family. Nicer still to witness the self-conscious smile that crossed the human features J'onn was wearing.

"Cave." J'onn rolled the word experimentally in his mouth.

Cassandra snapped her fingers. "Plan!" she announced, delighted with herself for the idea.

The others looked at her curiously.

"Sneaky plan!" she elaborated.

"Okay, now Bruce will be pissed," Barbara groaned. "We've made Cassandra an active conspirator."

Cassandra gave her an impatient look. Batman would not be mad. Sometimes Barbara just didn't understand his moods.

"What's the plan?" J'onn asked, and it looked as if he had picked up Cassandra's reaction. Telepathy, she reminded herself, the files on the Martian Manhunter which she had laboriously read flashing through her mind.

"You be me," she explained.


She waved off Barbara's objection. "Listen. J'onn move smooth, can match my motion. Maybe practice being other people first, but then... Shape-shift -" she gestured at his present form - "no problem. Can cheat, use telepathy to read people. Batman not notice difference. I coach." She beamed proudly.

"I'm not-" Barbara began, but she paused when she noticed the hint of a smile on J'onn's face. "J'onn, he'll be so-"

"It's a beautiful plan, Cassandra," J'onn interrupted, giving her a look of untarnished admiration.

Cassandra grinned.

Barbara leaned her head into her hand with a groan. "We're creating a monster."

"And it is good."


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